Infant Toilet Training: To Do or Not to Do


*Infant toilet training* is a debatable topic. Some parents find it unnecessary. But some parents (yours truly included), swear by it. A crucial point to be kept in mind is that potty training for a baby is different than the one for an older child. Infants are obviously not expected to go to the restroom independently (they operate on different parameters). Their responses are based on conditioning (responding to a sound or gesture or movement made by the parents).

To enable you to get a clearer perspective of the concept, I have tried to list out a few ‘goods’ and ‘not so goods’ of baby toilet training:

Let us focus on the positives:

1. My mother taught me that potty training, also called elimination communication, is actually communicating with your baby. When my son was about 4 months old, I initiated it with my mum’s help. I helped my baby to pee to a specific sound. It worked beautifully for Maanit (my son) and I. Gradually, as he grew older, he outgrew this conditioning and the process became natural. It was just what I had hoped for. We need to realise that timing makes or breaks the deal. You need to take a call, as a parent, as to when to start. Watch your baby for cues. For e.g. my son had this typical ‘nostril flaring’ look, before the ‘big flow’. Yours would have a specific expression or gesture, too. Identify that and you are ready to roll!

2. The other advantage is that keeping your baby diaper free works well for her comfort, too. She would never complain of diaper rash☺. So the monetary aspect gets another thumbs up; no investment in creams for the rash (no Gold Seals…had got it for my son).

3. Your relationship with your baby also grows stronger; You need to be around her, observing her. Working parents need to dedicate substantial time for this purpose; weekends and long stretches of time in the evenings, after work.

4. It makes our baby independent…an achievement for her.

A few ‘not-so-positives’:

1. If we are over anxious and start the process before our baby is ready, it can blow up in our face. A new born has no bladder control. She is not aware of her reflexes. Obviously, the exercise would come to a naught. Yet again, the decision is yours and your baby’s. Wait and watch, then decide. Moreover, you need to have time to invest, because toilet training does not happen overnight. It needs perseverance.

2. The other fact is that though our baby seems to be trained, she may, in all practicality, not be so. It just might be our accomplishment as a parent, keeping track of the poo and pee schedules and in deciphering the cues that our baby gives. In such circumstances, you might want to stick to the ‘no diaper’ rule, only when home.

3. You also need to be mentally and physically prepared to handle the mess…yes, accidents happen!

4. Some parents feel that it is the baby’s prerogative to decide when she wants to be diaper free.

Toilet training working or not, is very relative. It depends upon what we expect from it. If we intend to save money (diapers cost a bomb), want our babies to be independent and believe in hygiene, then it will definitely succeed. ☺


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